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CHURCH AND STATE.
“ Profectò virtus atque sapientia major in illis fuit, qui tantum imperium fecere, quàm in nobis, qui ea benè parta vix retinemus.”- -SALLUST.
* You cannot make men religious by Act of Parliament," says one dissenter.
“ It is unjust to give the preference to any one “sect'over another,” says a second.
“ It is hard that the nation should have to pay for their religion against their will, especially when they happen 'conscientiously' to dissent from the particular form established,” says a third.
Religion is a matter between each individual and his Maker, and not a State business,” says a fourth.
Such are the sapient, and of course unanswerable, objections made by the sectarians of the present day against the connexion of Church with State—that hallowed union, to which, if these thankless malcontents did but know, or rather, perhaps, would acknowledge it, they must mainly attribute all their national, and consequently individual, prosperity, and which has unquestionably been the sole means of preserving unimpaired by caprice or superstition anything like an uniform, consistent, and decorous form and system of public worship.
But within the last few years a lamentable change has come over the spirit of the people, engendered, perhaps, by the long period of uninterrupted peace which the nation has now enjoyed. The mob, though utterly incompetent, are getting into a way of what is called “thinking for themselves," instead of letting their betters think for them: and popular rationalism is fast supplanting expediency. The very pot-houses and dram-shops have become hot-beds of disputatious politicians. Every man who can read a newspaper, thinks himself qualified to be a legislator, and imbibes from the seditious (and, alas! all but untaxed) trash which daily issues from the “liberal” press, false views and opinions, as delusive to himself as destructive to the commonwealth at large. Vague theories, if not altogether false, at least altogether unconstitutional, about equal rights and liberty of the people, eagerly propagated by factious and interested demagogues, and subversive of all control and subordination, are daily filling with discontent, sedition, and disaffection the minds of our once happy working classes. The governed must now be governors. Reform,
" horribili super aspectu mortalibus instans," has reared its accursed head in the land, and already done half its odious revolutionary work. REFORM ! is emblazoned on every flag, pasted on every wall, blurted forth at every public meeting, professed at every election, toasted in every drinking-cup, from the crystal goblet of champagne to the smutty beer-horn of the radical operativenay, bellowed into the very carriages of royalty and nobility! Yes, change is indeed the order of the day; not the unheeded cry of a few
November 1839.--Vol. 1.--NO. III.
individuals, but the general popular feeling-the national malady. The idol of liberalism—that fond delusion—is set up in
town and village in the land, and its worship has absolutely infatuated the once contented and matter-of-fact inhabitants of our isle: and the rage for novelty, necessarily resulting from these altered principles, has spread, like a contagion, with such resistless sway, that it has dared to attack not only secular, but even spiritual things. Thus, not satisfied with mere political scheming, we are now, without any apparent compunction, playing tricks with religion, and desirous of ruthlessly severing, with hands profane, from the bosom of its fostering mother, that which ought not only to be hallowed to every truly good and thankful heart, but endeared to every sincere patriot—the National Church.
The objections now so frequently raised against the Church, as established in England, are chiefly based on the grounds of its relation with the State: and hence the Heads and Representatives of the Church, the Bishops, are made the chief point of sectarian attack in their capacity of legislators, or State-counsellors. We hear on all sides of us a clamorous and incessant demand, that the State be forthwith deprived of the benefits naturally, if not necessarily, accruing from the great learning, piety, wisdom, and experience of our sage and temperate Prelates,—who, surely, without insisting on any ultrà high-church doctrines, may be supposed to be under the more immediate guidance of Heaven— because, forsooth, “it is inconsistent with their sacred office to preach on Sundays, and deliver a speech in the House of Lords next day upon a beer bill!” Such, perhaps, might have been the sentiments of an hypocritical Puritan of bye-gone days; but a modern dissenter should consider, and no doubt would do so were he not biassed by party feelings, that to share in promoting the welfare of a nation cannot be “inconsistent” with any religious office, however high or important: that the Bishops sit strictly as representatives of their Church (which cannot, as all other classes and denominations of the community, not excepting the dissenters themselves, can, send representatives of its own body to the lower House),* and take, in reality, a very small and reluctant part in secular affairs :t that, whether “consistent” or otherwise, the State has, during the period the Bishops have participated in the legislation, risen to be the greatest and most glorious in the world : and that we should be very jealous of dissevering from the legislative body any members of it who may, under Heaven, have been even a partial cause of that preeminence ;-in short, no dissenter should insist upon this as a point of objection to our Established Church, without taking an impartial retrospective view of what has been the result of such a combination of secular with spiritual power, before he cherishes any vague theoretical opinions of what might be the advantages of its discontinuance.
* This was the case before the Reformation. | Since writing the above, we find in the Parliamentary report of June 17, the following piece of vulgarity uttered by Lord Brougham in the upper House :“They found, when the measure for the alteration of the beer bill was about to be "brought to a close, only two out of the twenty-six Bishops to sacrifice their dinners " —their regard for their belly, which was their god ! (order.)" Order, indeed ! Was there no Peer to exclaim, “ Turn him out” ?
We must, however, confess that in our opinion the above-mentioned objection to “the lordly pastors smelling of imperial parliament,” as the pious dissenters scoffingly call the Successors of the Apostles, is but a false and frivolous pretext to disguise the virulence of sectarian hatred. As long as their Lordships present an obstacle to the enactment of such precious specimens of dissenting liberalism as the minions of the dissenters in the lower House are constantly endeavouring to foist upon the loyal part of the community; as long as they boldly intercept the deadly weapons levelled against the Church; so long will the cry be, “Down with the parliament Bishops !"
When such sentiments of hostility to an established Church are not only extensively prevalent, but even openly favoured by government, we cannot be surprised that every possible means are resorted to by the malcontents and their ministerial allies, to annoy the Clergy and weaken the Church. It would be vain to expect that a party, who are themselves destitute of fixed annual revenues appropriated to religious uses, should view without envy and jealousy the property of the Church, and especially the enormous incomes of the Bishops. But how comes it, we should like to ask, that they make no objection whatever to individual noblemen possessing estates equal in value to the whole amount of property * divided among all the Bishops, while they so vehemently protest against any one of the latter holding his pittance of two, three, four, or five thousand a-year ?—sums far less than the annual incomes enjoyed by thousands of private gentlemen in the land i Compare, too, the nature and uses of the revenues respectively held by a Bishop and a lay nobleman. The rme devotes almost the whole of his to the building and endowment of Churches, the enlargement of small livings, and similar pious purposes; while the latter is considered a prodigy of liberality, if he now and then apply a few hundred pounds to the same uses.
Now let us briefly examine the nature of the property of each, and we shall immediately perceive how utterly, how wilfully false is the stale objection, “that the property of the nobleman is private, that of the Bishop public property."
Generally speaking, the lands belonging to the Church have been in its possession for a far greater length of time than the estates now held by any of the aristocracy have been claimed by their ancestors. Moreover, the Church lands were originally appropriated to sacred purposes exclusively; freely given and bequeathed by their owners for religious uses : whereas the estates of the nobles were, for the most part, either grants made in far later times by partial sovereigns or unjust usurpers, whose only law was cedat fortiori, or even derived from the spoliation of true and legitimate Church property.t Thus Church property is not only more sacred than any other kind, but held by a more ancient, as well as a more just title. But is it not enough to say, that it is secured by a religious sanctity, of which all other
• £160,000 per annum.
† In 1540, Henry VIII. squandered almost all the immense revenues derived from the suppression of religious houses, in creating and supporting Earls, Barons, and Knights. Though several of the English Bishoprics were erected as late as this time, they were still endowed with what had previously been church property.
property is destitute? To plunder a Lord is robbery : to plunder a Bishop is sacrilege ;-and indeed the spoliation of Church property has in some instances been attended with such signal vengeance from heaven, even to the third and fourth generation of the spoilers,* that it is wonderful how an impious nation could ever dare to lay finger upon it again! Yet would the State think for a moment of depriving any one Lord or gentleman of his property, however lately or even unfairly (so long as legally) acquired ? No. The State has a just horror of robbery, but none whatever of sacrilege. But let us further observe, that while the State, were it to confiscate and apply to any other purposes the estates of a Lord, would be robbing an individual, the same State, in alienating and applying to any other uses (as education) Church property, is, eventually, robbing the people ! The Church is the people's heritage. They pay nothing for it in reality -not one farthing; while your sham dissenting “clergy," who take care to line their pockets pretty comfortably with the “voluntary imposition, cost them a great deal. It is the existence of distinct Church property (whether landed, or held, like tithes, on an equally just, though less visible, tenure,t) which saves the people that money which they have to pay to their dissenting teachers. But if this property be taken away from the Church, their property is taken away from them : they must pay the Clergy themselves, or have no Church. And if lands belonging to one see are unjustly appropriated to augment the revenues of another see, it is much the same-part of the people are robbed to enrich another part. And it is indeed strange to find, as we do in these days of reform, so many see-gulls innocently petitioning Parliament that it will be pleased to rob them of their superfluous Church possessions! This is truly liberalism! Now we would appeal to any candid person, if this is not a true view of the
When the revenues of a see are reduced to half their former rightful amount, who, we would ask, is the sufferer? Not, we confidently assert, primarily the Bishop: he has only the less money to spend in doing good in his diocese. It must necessarily be those who cannot now be benefited by his liberality, that really suffer.
Alas that the times in which we now live should be characterised by such a restless and extravagant thirst for change; that is to say, by a dissatisfaction with everything established ! Not content with a constitution, which, having been gradually reared on the sure basis of experience, has at length exalted the English nation to that proud eminence from whence it can look down upon every other people in the world, our would-be-reformers, mistaking novelty for improvement, and acknowledging no resting point in excellence, would fain have their country better than best : they would build the superstructure higher than it will bear, forgetting that it may eventually overbalance itself and fall upon their own heads. It is allowed
* See Church Magazine, Nos. II. & V.
Tithes have been regularly paid to the Church since the eighth century, according to Hallam. The legislative enactment of tithes is commonly ascribed to Ethelwolf, early in the ninth century; though there is reason to believe that tithes were paid in Britain as early as 429.
by the most calm and cool political philosophers, both of the past and - present time, that, by the lapse of ages, and the cautious and gradual adaptation of measures to necessities, the English constitution has attained a point about as near to perfection as it is possible to arrive – blemished, indeed, as every merely human constitution must always be, with numerous and perhaps great defects, yet, upon the whole, and in all main points, unexceptionable. Now if practice, example, and precedent are exhausted; if the constitution has advanced to its limit of excellence and a limit there must be somewhere, as the history of nations fearfully proves—to what can the votaries of still further improvement (as they call it) have recourse ? To speculation and theory.* They are compelled to leave the guidance of experience, and plunge into the unknown regions of experiment. To this party are opposed those somewhat more cool-headed and calculating “bigots," who, without absurdly imagining (as they are ignorantly accused of doing) the English constitution to have attained perfect still consider the approximation to it sufficiently close to warrant a determined resistance to all such bold and sweeping measures, as, under the specious guise of improvement, threaten to become (considering them not merely in themselves, but in their effects and tendencies) causes of real, serious, and perhaps irreparable deterioration; who, in short, would rather tolerate imperfection in the working, than endanger the whole system. They feel, indeed, that moderate alteration in some minor points would not only be unobjectionable, but highly desirable. But the conduct of the modern destructives has compelled them to oppose even this on principle. Were there no ultra-Radicals, there would be no ultra-Tories. The latter entertain the opinion, which events more and more confirm, that it is impossible to check the progress of innovation.' Once open the flood-gates of reform, and revolution will rush in before they can be reclosed. The question lies between theoretical aggrandisement and practical imperfection. The latter we have, feel, and lament. Is it better to tolerate it, or to throw a die which may cast up ruin or improvement, as it happens ?
In consequence of the above principles having of late years become as it were incorporated with the national character, a vast wave of popular feeling has been, for some time past, rolling slowly, and hitherto irresistibly, against the walls of our Reformed Catholic
What can we call such measures as the Ballot, Universal Suffrage, Repeal of the Corn Laws, (and the Reform Bill ?) but theories—and those of the very wildest and most uncertain description? Respecting that democratic abomination, the Ballot, who is it that so loudly demands it, but the rabble crew, who (thanks to the Reform Bill) are alone bribed at elections ? And why do they want the Ballot ? Because if a fellow has always professed himself of one party, and goes and votes for the opposite, his shame is now readily detected. Is this fear of exposure, or the Ballot, the best “protection ?” We may add, that the dissenter's favourite “voluntary principle” would be a mere theory if there were no Established Church; a spirit of rivalry to which alone actuates them. Indeed, the utter incompetency of the system, even at present, is lamentably apparent. It is well known that hardly a conventicle in the kingdom is paid for; and it is said that Government actually grants £15,000 per annum, for the maintenance of the old cast-off dissenting teachers !